Friday, 4 March 2011

Corman's Classic Poe Piece ...

The Raven

Graced with the horror greatness of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, The Raven loosely adapts Edgar Allan Poe’s literary classic into a genial horror, to tickle rather than terrorise.

Doctor Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) receives a visitation from a talking raven, to soon discover that it is the magically entrapped embodiment of fellow magician Dr. Adolphus Bedlo (Peter Lorre). He relays a tale of dastardly displacement at the hands of Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff), the self proclaimed master magician.

Erasmus Craven lives a somewhat reclusive lifestyle away from the strife of the sorcerers ordainment. His father before passing away was the master magician, and in the natural order his son Erasmus was to have succeeded him. Instead the gentle man chose a life outside of the magical order, spending time to pursue his own trivial pursuits, and live with his daughter away from the rivalries of his fellow peers. He also still grieves the loss of his wife, and yearns for her companionship. All, however, is not quite what it seems, and the appearance of the raven sets the cat amongst the birds !.

Dr. Bedlo is transformed back into human form with the assistance of Dr. Craven. He explains to him the reasoning behind his plight at the hands of Dr. Scarabus. He also tells Craven that he has seen his wife Lenore at the castle of Dr. Scarabus. Craven is troubled that his fathers great opponent Scarabus has captured and enslaved the soul and being of his deceased wife. He chooses to act upon the information, and along with his daughter Estelle, Dr. Bedlow, and Bedlo’s son Rexford ( A very young Jack Nicholson, in an early role), travels at night by horse and carriage to Dr. Scarabus’ coastal castle.

The movie entertains from light hearted start to playful finale, all with a suitably tongue in cheek aplomb, and never forgetting its horror hybrid identity. All the major stars are revelling in their roles, playfully parodying more villainous parts in their salubrious cinematic careers. Hazel Court, as Erasmus Craven’s manipulative wife Lenore, positively blooms in her salubrious deception.

Playing on the wonderful MGM HD channel, another in their fantastic showings of re-mastered high definition prints, the movie looks terrific. A beautiful original ratio full wide screen presentation. The sets are colourfully gothic under Roger Corman’s direction, and eye for frugal flair. Only the exterior shots of castle Scarabus look out of place as the cheap matte effect highlights all of its shortcomings in this near pristine print. An easily forgivable nit pick for such an enjoyable movie, given the love and attention it deserves.

Dr. Scarabus challenges Dr. Craven to a duel of magic, intent on bettering his reluctant master of the arts, to prove himself true benefactor of the order of master magician. Vincent Price revels in the role, his confident demeanour radiating forth from his intuitive countenance. Sat facing each other in the castles great hall the two do battle. Gesticulating japes and magical prowess play out, with the best man prevailing, so quotes The Raven, never more !.

The Raven Trailer
Movie Details IMDB

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